Number of migrant children separated from parents higher than previously reported: NBC News

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The number of migrant children separated from their parents is higher than previously reported, NBC News reported on Monday. 

Lawyers, who are attempting to reunite children separated under Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, now say they haven’t been able to find the parents of 666 children, according to an email obtained by the news network.

Last month, the lawyers, who represent the children, told a federal judge that the parents of 545 children had yet to be found after they made attempts to contact them. 

Steven Herzog, the attorney leading the reunion efforts, said in the email to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the number grew because it now includes those “for whom the government did not provide any phone number.”

Herzog told the DOJ attorneys representing the administration that “we would appreciate the government providing any available updated contact information, or other information that may be helpful in establishing contact for all 666 of these parents.”

Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the network that the new statistic “includes individuals in addition to 545 for whom we got no information from government that would allow meaningful searches but are hopeful the government will now provide with that information.”

The Department of Homeland Security and the DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The “zero tolerance” policy, in which migrant children and parents were separated, was in effect between April and June 2018. But the government previously ran a pilot program in the El Paso sector, and most of the children who have not been reunited were separated in the pilot program.

President-elect Joe Biden, who was declared the winner over the weekend, said he will create a task force to reunite the separated families. 

Two sources familiar with the incoming administration’s planning told NBC News that Biden has not yet chosen whether the separated parents will be permitted to come to the U.S. and ask for asylum.

Tags Department of Justice DOJ families separated at border Immigration Joe Biden Separated children separated families Zero tolerance
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